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Author Topic: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester  (Read 69016 times)

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Offline otis

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Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2009, 19:30:25 »
OMG !

Just searched Ft Bridgewood on the web and found the following link to a Royal British Legion site.

http://www.garatshay.org.uk/newsletters/newsletterspring07.htm

I have copied the relevent bit here.

Quote
I am a member of the Medway Amateur Receiving and Transmitting Society [and an Ex RN Communicator]. I am a former Royal Navy Communicator and hold the Amateur Call G4HJE.Myself and several other members of the radio society have started to research the wireless interception station that was established at Fort Bridgewoods Chatham in about 1926 and remained an important part of the interception network until early 1941. A number of us have a keen interest in the work carried out by the various parts of the Intercept Organisation and of course having had a site on your doorstep [demolished in the mid 1970s] makes it all the more interesting.  We do know that a number of our wartime members served as VIs including a former President of the Society Bill Nutton G6NU.

We have managed to find a very limited amount of information about the importance of Fort Bridgewood including the important part that operators there played in intercepting Enigma traffic between 1939 and early 1941. Fort Bridgewood, unlike the others in the Medway defences remained shrouded in mystery as post WW2 it was used as a nuclear bunker for regional government so officially did not exist

I know that it was commanded by a Colonel M J W Ellingworth, who was in fact a retired RN Lt Cdr and who had been one of the youngest CPO Telegraphists in the fleet.

 I have been in contact with Lt Col Sandy Le Gassik MBE Royal Signals who in early 1939 trained at Fort Bridgewoods [Chatham Intercept Station] as an Experimental Wireless Assistant and who retired from the Royal Signals in 1980.  The reason for my interest is that he provided an article to the BBC on 18 November 2005 about his experiences as a young man at war.  Part of the experience described was being recruited as an Experimental Wireless Assistant at Fort Bridgewood .

I have been able to establish that local school boys [of about 17 years] were recruited by a member of Bridgewoods staff and trained to receive morse at 22 words per minute.  Also that many of the female staff were recruited from Sharps toffee factory in Maidstone.

 I have established from the Bletchley Park website that Chatham played an important part in the initial interception of GAF Enigma traffic and played a key role in the early breaks by providing quality intercepts.I know that Bridgewoods was bombed in October 1940 and that a number of personnel were killed. I have also established that the site had two masts from which a number of HF long wires were strung, also that the intercept bays were located in the deep magazines.I have identified that Ellingworth was associated with E K Cole, the owner of EKCO radio company and that some of the early intercept radios were produced or modified by his company.


We all now know what part Bletchley paid in helping us win the war. What a shame such an important site has now gone.  :(

  regards Otis
"there was more hit than miss about this arbitrary bombardment"

Offline otis

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Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2009, 19:16:15 »
Thanks Davids Mate  :)

I keep meaning to have a look around the site to see if i can see any possible rermains.

My understanding is that this one has gone. Ploughed under an industrial park. Just looked on Google Map satelite view and can see nothing of it, though Ft Horsted and Ft Borstal can be seen.

When I visited the place 25 years ago it was already partly gone. The main path through the woods then cut across the partly filled in ditch. Much of the Northern side must have gone. If you turned left down the gradually sloping ditch infill, you came to a doorway in the ditch wall opposite, where the rest of the ditch turned right. The steeply slopping steps down here took you back to the right underground, and then climbed into the main sheltered area of the fort. I recall much evidence there of WWII AA batteries and some small buildings and a view across the country south towards the airfield. There must have been some inscriptions here, because I clearly recall making the connection with AA fire command.

Sticking out like a sore thumb in the middle of what would have been the parade ground, was a large concrete bunker on the surface, the size of several bungalows. It was around here that we would often be "discovered" by some kind of groundsman, who would get us to clear off.

I don't recall ever going through fences or passing any kind of security signs to get there. I remember thinking that this must be some kind of secret military bunker. So secret that it had no "Keep out" signs to attra
ct attention, and needed plain clothes security.

I now understand this would have been some kind of Council Cold War bunker, to count the dead when the "bomb" dropped.

I will try and confirm the whole AA thing.

  regards Otis
"there was more hit than miss about this arbitrary bombardment"

Offline david

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Re: Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2009, 17:34:18 »
This is a plan, which I have just completed, based on the RE Library plan Ref4200/SE/2/2400 & 2401.


(Just corrected an error to the labelling)
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Offline david

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Re: Fort Bridgewoods,Rochester
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2008, 10:48:17 »
This one was taken by the late Peter Cobb.



A Rare Find has a better one on his website, http://southeast-defencephotos.com/

Edit: Moved the picture to Photobucket
We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is com

merc

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Fort Bridgewoods, Rochester
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 11:43:46 »
The fort was built in the late 19th century as one of the forts that defended the landward aproach to Chatham Dockyard. It protected the approach from Maidstone and the flank of Fort Borstal.

It was polygonal in shape and had a deep dry ditch around it. The entrance was via a roller bridge and either side of the entrance gate were machine gun loops, which was the first appearance of this feature at Chatham. Above the entrance was a crown and VR with the year 1884, which may be the year work continued on the fort after construction had been suspended for a while.

The fort was first started in about 1879 by convict labour, but due to lack of money and enthusiasm for building the forts, work stopped and it wasn't until 1892 that fort Bridgewoods was completed.

The ditch around the fort was partly constructed with flint rather than the usual concrete. It was originally to have three Counterscarp galleries defending the ditch but only two were built,leaving the rear area of the forts ditch undefended. One of the Counterscarp galleries has a sally port in giving access to the ditch, during the 1907 Siege Operations, which this fort took part in, this gallery was extensively damaged.

Inside the fort to the left of the entrance were accomodation Casemates for the garrison. Off these Casemates were short tunnels which led to the Magazines and Reservoirs. Expanse Magazines and Gun Emplacements were built but no fixed Gun Emplacements was provided. An external earthen wing Battery was also built in the later 19th century to give extra mobile fire power.

Pror to WWII the fort became "Y" Station,gathering signals inteligence for the war office and during the war activities were greatly increased and a hutted encampment was built in the woods adjacent to the fort, and also other buildings were built inside the fort. The fort dissapeared from local maps right up until the 1970's. Later in the war the station moved and the fort was occupied by 33 Kent Batalion (Shorts Brothers) Home Guard who manned a number of light AA guns.

In 1953 a large fallout proof Bunker was built in the fort,it had 2 floors and was partly below ground. It was for an Anti Aircraft Operations Room (AAOR) for the Thames and Medway South fixed AA guns sites. It remained operational untill 1957. The AAOR would of co-ordinated all AA activity from Dartford to Sittingbourne and the Thames Estuary.

In 1960 the fort and bunker were handed over to the Home Office who made it into a Sub Regional Control Centre for the administration of South East London after a Nuclear attack. Fort Bridgewoods was known as SRC 5.2. This lasted untill 1967 when the system was rationalised.

The fort was then sold to a builder and in the late 1970's the ditch was partly filled in. In 1982 a serious fire gutted the AAOR. Then in 1988 despite the fort being listed as a building of historic interest it was completely demolished and a Post Office parcels depot was built on the site.

Today there may be remains of the wing Battery left and the site of the hutted encampment can be traced nearby.

 

 

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